Saturdays stages were to be a mix of rock climbs and winch hills with a mix of sprint sections. Only 9 of the 10 trucks would start the 2nd day of competition, Dave Burrows withdrawing the farm truck due to a sprained thumb sustained the previous night.
In this video, we review places 4-9.
After leading the event at the end of the Friday Stages, Matt Holgate and Isaac James got off to a fairly ordinary start on Saturday morning in their GU Patrol. Like five other teams, they failed to get a full score due to penalties on SS4. Another penalty in SS5 wouldn’t help. In fact they went backwards considerably over the day recording a 6th, then 7th and then an 8th in the first 3 stages. Luckily they bounced back in the final two stages of the day with a 6th and 5th. They dropped from 1st to 4th outright with only 2 stages to go.
Steven Reid and Alex Gordon were Newcomers to the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge and by the time Friday Nights competition was done, they were sitting in equal 4th. They won the opening stage in their 100 series Landcruiser, but Saturdays first stage was not looking good, with penalties pushing them to the bottom of the field. They’d make up for it in the next two stages, finishing in 2nd and 3rd respectively. But penalties in SS7 and a broken steering arm on what was becoming a fairly notorious hill at the finish to the stage would see them drop down to 8th, however another fine performance and 2nd outright in the next stage would see the XWC rookies finish the day 5th Outright.
Series organiser David Metcalfe had introduced a new points system for this event, tightening up the gaps between places. So each score out of a possible 100 really counted and penalties made more of difference than previous rounds. Rod Rathbone with brother Russell Rathbone in the Navigators seat are series veterans and regularly appear in the top placings and this was again the case after Fridays stages. They were 2nd outright.
And Saturday morning started well for them finishing 3rd on in the first morning stage, Stage 4. But it would be stage 6 that would be their undoing. A bent steering rod stopped them mid stage and despite doing everything they could to finish, they entered the finish garage just outside the DNF time and scored the minimum 20 points for starting the stage. This would drop them down the leader-board and they finished uncharacteristically in 6th outright.
Queenslanders and the furthest travelling team in a GQ Nissan Patrol was Lachson Racing. The team is made up of Jason Jones in the Drivers seat, with young teenager son Lachlan running the winch rope in the role of navigator. They started Saturday morning in 7th outright, but despite not having to touch the truck mechanically all weekend, they just couldn’t match the speed of the other teams until they got to stage 8. This was to be their best effort for the weekend with a 3rd in stage. But it wouldn’t be enough to advance them up the leader-board and they finished the day where they started in 7th overall.
After Steve Howarth and Glen Rodgers unlucky DNF in SS1 on Friday night, they were down in last place, despite scoring 2nd outright in both SS2 and SS3. They too managed a penalty on the first stage for Saturday. But even with the penalty they were 5th and then 5th again in SS5. In the next two stages, Howarth focussed on neat and tidy driving and Rodgers was looking to make up as much time running the winch rope. They were rewarded with consistent stage times, no penalties and an impressive 4th place in the two stages. Unfortunately, the last stage wasn’t as kind and they dropped back to 8th on stage and 8th overall. Whilst this was a move up the leader-board, it certainly wasn’t where they wanted to be and shows the importance of not recording a DNF.
But the weekends biggest moment and most impressive entry into a finish Garage must go to the Toyota 60 series team of Kevin Gorrick and Justin Bailey. They were first into stage 7 and managed to get the wheels in the wrong place for the decent from the top of the winch section. Despite the rollover, they managed to finish the stage, but unfortunately it was outside the DNF time and they only scored the minimum 20 points. The car was quickly repaired and they finished the final stage of the day. Earlier in the day they had their best stage result, finishing 4th in SS4. With the DNF, they were at the bottom of the leader-board by the end of the day, but still going and ready for Sunday’s stages.
A great day of action and with only 2 stages left for Sunday, anything could happen.